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Newsletter February 18, 2015

Published Wednesday, February 18, 2015
by Larry Kelleher

25th Annual Homes Tour

The Sarasota Alliance for Historic Preservation is proud to present the 25th Annual Historic Homes Tour on Sunday, March 1, 2015 from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the historic Laurel park neighborhood. The public is invited to celebrate Sarasota’s rich architectural heritage by touring 12 significant yet diverse structures in one of the first downtown neighborhoods established in 1925.

While enjoying a self-guided walking tour visitors will see antique cars provided by the Model ”A” Restorers Club/Antique Automobile Club of America that reflect the period of the homes.

Free parking will be available at the Senior Friendship Center at 1899 Brother Geenen Way and Crissy Galleries 640 South Washington Boulevard and the Woman’s Exchange 539 Orange Avenue.  Tickets may be purchased for a donation of $20.00 on the Alliance's Web page,  www.historicsarasota.org or onsite the day of the tour in the parking lot of the Woman’s Exchange 539 Orange Avenue.

Prior to the day of the event, tickets are also available at the following locations:
Davidson Drugs-1281 S. Tamiami Trail, 5124 Ocean Blvd. and 6595 Midnight Pass Road
Sarasota Architectural Salvage-1093 Central Avenue
Main Street Traders-1468 Main Street
Sarasota County Historical Society-1260 12th Street

The Sarasota Garden Club is volunteering to help the Alliance on the day of the tour. They will be selling tickets to their upcoming Gardens in Paradise Tour; for more information Click here.

(photo credit: Giovanni Lunardi)


Drive By Gem

I have no idea how old this home is, though I just think the roof-lines, chimney, and the red door make it pop! I wonder if it has a contemporary interior. This place is in an older neighborhood, yet it fits right in.

Just Jane

I’m supposed to be collecting my TAX information, but… I’ll procrastinate by doing anything, to get out of that particularly hateful chore!

Just wanted to apologize that I’ve not had time to go ferret out some great, vintage homes for you to purchase and cherish. However, judging by the ‘even standing on the porches’ crowd last week at the Historical Society’s Young Turks of Architecture Conversation, at least 200 folks are deeply interested in the modern wave of design going on in our town.

Still there are fun, engaging, old-fashioned cottages and estates from the 20’s through the 50’s that are out there, just waiting for you to turn into an updated showcase. I loved hearing the story of the wonderful, very modern home, recently finished on Citrus Avenue designed by Columbian, Tatiana White, that was discussed by the “Turks.” The good news - instead of bulldozing the existing 1930’s house that stood on that lot, it was cut in half and moved to its new location in Gillespie Park; truly, a win-win situation for all.

Help me find more Vintage Homes that can be saved, and then let’s think about allowing apartments to be built over the shops on Main Street  just like what’s happening in my old hometown, Wilmington, Delaware.  What a novel idea that makes perfect sense!


Pretty as a Picture

Remember the Siesta Key Fish Market? Then you remember the serenity of the iconic location. This is what old Sarasota was all about. It’s hard to find places like this anymore; if you do - better keep ‘em secret unless you want to see over-development.

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources, Pete Esthus Collection)



The “Sara-so-tan” should be familiar to students who attended Sarasota High School. It was a weekly publication produced by and for students that also carried local advertising of businesses who had school spirit and were supportive of its publication. After all, their kids probably went there; it was the only game in town until Riverview High School was established. 

(image credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Ain't Life Grand?

This is a January 15, 1953 photo of Dewitt Adams and Bob Repine hanging out at the filling station. Not sure of the story behind this, but it looks like they may have been out late the night before “painting the town red.” 

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources, Pete Esthus Collection)


Postcard of the Week

When you think of Palm Avenue in Sarasota, frequently what comes to mind is the section near Main Street that has fine shops, galleries, restaurants, condos, and an assortment of businesses. However, if you were standing on the south part of Palm Avenue looking north towards Main Street, this is what you would have seen in the mid-1920s. Not a condo in sight and only impressive bay front homes, with long docks, were on the west (left) side of this image.

(image credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources, Pete Esthus Collection)

Venice, Florida - Revisited

There’s an old song that goes “The old gray mare she ain’t what she used to be…” Another verse to that song could be “The city of Venice, she ain’t what she might have been.”

Back in 1914, before Sarasota County was formed, the Sarasota-Venice Co., part of the Palmer organization, published a booklet extolling the unlimited farming opportunities inherent in the Sarasota Bay-Venice area. Not only the fertility of the soil, but with the coming of the Seaboard Air Line Railway, farmers had a marketing area that included 80,000 people.

One of the glorious inducements was the ever-present, easily obtained, never-ending supply of water for irrigation available for those rare periods of a shortage of rainfall. You can obtain flowing artesian water in the district. Once you put down a well, you have no further water bills – no engine repairs or fuel expense. Much of the soil in the Sarasota-Venice district is combination soil-adapted to both citrus and vegetables. It is the ambition of every rich man to be able to get out of harness, retire and come to live in a climate such as this. Because of the unique combination character of our soil, there is an opportunity for the man in moderate circumstances who is willing to earn his living from the soil for a few years until his grove comes into bearing.

A cash crop of tomatoes can be grown in the spring after celery and lettuce are off and the residue turned under. The 1914 spring crop of tomatoes from the Sarasota-Venice district was 59,555 crates that filled 128 rail cars from 336 acres. Efficient growers were getting a return of up to $550 per acre.

If you don’t like dirt farming, then raising chickens might interest you. Six-hundred chickens can easily support any ordinary family. Because of the local tourist trade, who like to eat, you can realize up to 35 cents per dozen eggs and capons for broiling bring up to 50 cents each. Read more...

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor: I have no idea if it is appropriate to ask if anyone has a specific item, but I am compelled to ask anyway. My daughter is now a grandmother herself, and wants to write her history and include some pictures for her own grandchildren. We lived in Sarasota for their entire growing-up lives. We owned Swift Road Service Station on the corner of Swift and Wilkinson Road prior to moving to Fruitville area on Sawyer Road near EMR, dropping the station and concentrated strictly on paint and body work.

Our photos and negatives were ruined in a flooded basement after moving to NC in the late 1970s. My daughter desperately wants a picture of the old Standard Oil station (Swift Road Service) to show her kids and grandkids. We don't have one. If you or anyone else might point me to a search point to try to find an old photo of our old Standard Oil Station, it would be so, so greatly appreciated.

I have fond memories of the old Trail Drive-In Theater (pictured) also, where my brother was the manager for a long time and they still ran the train around the screen tower on the playground. I guess I have fond memories of Sarasota in many aspects, though I also love our little mountain town of Rosman.

Thank you for your time and attention.
Bonnie Hollingsworth,
Rosman, NC

Yesterday's Sarasota Calendar

Today in 1938, Mayor Verman Kimbrough announces that “this is the last public statement I intend to make with regard to the…Tin Can Tourists of the World” as they just settled, figuratively and literally, regarding the annual travel trailer convention held in Sarasota. Seems the mayor wasn’t too thrilled about the name of the group or the name he felt they might give to Sarasota. Seems they weren’t too thrilled about the city’s campgrounds either as 700 of them left or refused to use the facilities.  

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources)


Where am I?

The winner of our last contest was Drake Elvgren. Congratulations!

Every now and then your editor is compelled to make this quiz a bit more difficult. This photo of me was taken in 1952, and these folks appear to be enjoying the fishing. Not pictured, but nearby there’s a unique restaurant that is rustic and inviting. My water is clear but brown in color due to the tannin in it from the oak trees and other organic matter. No matter – your task is to name the unique structure that represents this area. “Where am I?”

Click here to submit your answer, as well as view the correct answer to the last challenge.

(photo credit: Sarasota County Historical Resources, Pete Esthus collection)




Your award this week is the book, John Hamilton Gillespie - The Scot Who Saved Sarasota by Jeff LaHurd. The Friend's of the Sarasota County History Center generously provided this prize. Please consider becoming a member of the Friends; they have some exciting programs coming up soon. Visit them here.

If you would like to be a sponsor of our "Where Am I?" quiz, please call us at (941) 951-7727. It only cost $25 per week for us to set up your ad, and then you only have to provide a prize for the winner. What could be easier?


Friends of the History Center Annual Meeting

Please join the Friends of the History Center on March 26, 2015 for their annual meeting at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 1741 Main Street in downtown Sarasota. After their business meeting, the public is invited to the evening program, “Under the Big Top,” which begins at 6:15 p.m.

A video done by Venice Middle School students for the Venice Area Historical Society will be presented, featuring interviews with eight former Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus performers. The interviews include conversations with Dolly Jacobs, Pedro Reis, Sigrid Gebel and her daughter, Tina Delmoral, Tito Gaona, Chuck Sidlow, Keith Greene and Jackie LeClaire. Jackie LeClaire, a clown for 28 years with Ringling will be on hand to answer questions.
Reservations are required. Call 941-484-0769 to reserve your seat.


Cornice Stone Declared Cause of Death

Howard Dial, a 40-year-old well-known Sarasotan, died at Sarasota Hospital when he was struck on the head by a cornice stone that fell from the top of a 30-foot column at the Terrace Hotel. Fred Redd, Jr., acting as coroner of the Justice of the Peace, decided no inquest was necessary in the fatality. He examined the hotel building and interviewed several witnesses. The cornice stone was examined by officers and was photographed.

Mr. Dial was taken to the hospital where a delicate operation was performed several days later. His condition had been critical since he was admitted and Dr. J.E. Harris stated that he had suffered a compound fracture of the skull and a slight brain concussion.

The examination of Mr. Dial, who was working on the erection of an awning at the hotel, did not receive his fatal injuries from a fall from a stepladder, but was struck on the head prior to his fall.
(Editor’s note: This was excerpted from an article in the Sarasota Herald, dated December 15, 1937)

Historical Commission Opening

The Historical Commission has an opening on their board. The board advises the Sarasota County Commission regarding (a) the acceptance of grants and donations, (b) the marking of historical sites with county historical markers, (c) Historical Resource’s annual budget, and (d) historical material and data.

The length of a term is four years, and they meet the second Wednesday of each month at 4:30 p.m. For more information, please contact Sarasota County Historical Resources, Deb Gehringer at 941-861-6881. Or contact her by email, dgehring@scgov.net.